Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eugene marathon 2013

I better get this down before I forget:). Wish I had blogged before the race about my feelings and training but alas, I did not:).
So, lets just say I trained my butt off for this one and I was nervous and strangely excited to see what I could do.  My coach always said we are training for 3 hours +/-  3 minutes.  When I first got my training plan I looked at it and thought, holy crap, that is tough!  I took one day at a time, one workout at a time and other than my little quad thing that kept me out of the 30k, training went well. I hit all of my workout paces, even the scary ones :). I was ecstatic to be going in healthy.
Staying healthy requires work, I have learned this the hard way.  That should be another blog post but let's just say that I did my core, the myrtle routine, my post run stretching, and when needed went into to my sports chiro for muscle stim, etc.
I am constantly amazed at what the human body can be trained to do and what power the mind has.
My friend and teammate Mara offered to drive and it was nice to just be along for the ride.
We got down to Eugene around 1:30 and went to the expo.

Mara and I at the expo

 It was not all that exciting but it was fun to just be there.  Training for a race takes so much time and it was so nice for it to finally be go time.  Got my bib and shirt and chatted with a few of my teammates and then I headed to the hotel.  My coach had said that it was really important to stay off my feet as much as possible.  This makes sense but I had never been too conscious of it before.  I listened and just chilled at the hotel while my friend and teammate Tyler and we tried to figure out where to eat for dinner.  This was not an easy task!  I always have a hard time figuring out what to eat when I am not at home.  I really did not even feel hungry, I am sure because of nerves, but I knew I needed to eat. We decided we wanted chicken, rice, and veggies.  This is a normal pre long run meal for me.  We ended up at Mcgraths and had just what we wanted.  Back to the hotel for race prep and bed.

Ready to go!

Tyler and I chilled, I facetimed with my kiddos and hubby and then it was bedtime.  I actually slept pretty well.  I was nervous but was not freaking out.  I was going to run the best that I could on that day.  There was really not anymore that I could do, right?

Race day:  I actually got pretty good sleep :)  I did not wake up every hour which is a good thing!  Got up at 4:30 as we planned to be in the lobby at 5:50 to catch the shuttle
Did the usual pre race stuff.  I always shower to wake myself up. Then there was the normal breakfast of oatmeal and a banana, while hydrating with water and gatorade.  I should start keeping track of how much fluid I am taking in because while I feel like I cant drink anymore, I may need to revisit my fueling plan.  You will see why later :)  We met some other teammates in the lobby boarded the bus and we were on our way.  I was fighting back some nerves but tried to stay calm and focused.  We got to the start with plenty of time.  Of course we went straight for the port-o-potties which had no line.  Tyler and I hung together and were running in to a bunch of our teammates.  Team Athena had a big presence at this race.  Like huge actually!  The support was amazing and I was looking forward to running with and being cheered on by them and my coach Nikki.  If you were at the race I am sure you saw some of our girls.  We walked around a bit and then decided it was time to shed our layers and check our bags.  Then we headed for a little warmup but had to go to the bathroom again but this time the lines were huge!  Lets just say that we did not wait because if we had we would have had no warmup and I have learned that warmup is essential.  We were not the only ones finding an alternative to the port-o-potties.  It is amazing how much shame I do not have when it comes to going to the bathroom and running.  Ha!  We probably did a mile warmup and saw the hill we would have to run around mile 9.  We got back to the start line and the energy was amazing!  The corrals were full and everyone was ready to go.  Perfect timing for me because I do not like standing around at the start line getting nervous!  We jumped into corral B and weaved our way to the front.  They had a rope there separating us from corral A.  All the girls were right there and I was so happy to see them.  My training partner Nicole was there and I breathed a sigh of relief to have found her.  They dropped the rope and so I felt like I could just stand with my girls.  There were about 6 girls that I personally knew that were trying to run 3:00 or better so it was nice to have friends there feeling the same thing.  Plus the added bonus of so many of my teammates running the 1/2.  The 1/2 and full start together and stay together for 10.5 miles.
Nervous smile :)
And then the national anthem was bring sung, and it was time to focus.  The moments of silence for Boston were emotional but I held it back.  Then the countdown and we were all off.  It was amazing to finally be there after all the hard training.  I was excited and it felt so good!  I remember in the first mile commenting to Nicole and Amy that I loved the sound of all the feet hitting the pavement, music to my ears.  And so begins the race of my life-

Miles 1-5 ( 6:43,6:43,6:50,6:51,6:49)
The plan was to start out at 7:00 for the first couple of miles and then cut down to 6:50.  Easier said than done!  No one had mentioned that there were a few downhills in the first 2 miles.  These miles were bliss.  Some talking and lots of smiling.  Amy, Nicole, Tyler(running the 1/2), and I were all together.  Our own little Team Athena support group!

Miles 6-10 (6:43,6:36,6:41,6:46,6:40) 
So cliche but the miles were flying by and everything was feeling great.  I picked up a 1/2 banana at 7.5 and carries it until 9 at which point I ate it.  I was alternating water and gatorade at the aid stations and at mile 9 Amy picked up her water bottle from the elite table and offered me some.  Super helpful!  Working together was so helpful, if only it could have lasted longer:)

I love this picture!  Me and Amy around mile 9 where we passed Hayward again.
Fueling- 9-1/2 banana, 13-1/2 banana, 18-honey stinger chews, 22-honey stinger chews, 24-bite of banana.  Alternated water and gatorade at every aid station
Miles 11-15 (6:42,6:45,6:53,6:43,6:48)
I was feeling good and was sad to split from tyler at 10.5 but was so happy that she was having a great race!  I picked up another 1/2 banana at 12.5( well actually I dropped the first one and had to stop to grab another one).  Amy was a little bit ahead and I thought about running hard to get even with her but decided not to waste the energy.  She was a couple steps ahead and that was ok.  I ate that banana right after the half marker.  Crossed the half in 1:28:31.  Things were getting a big harder but I was hoping that that banana would kick in and everything would return back to status quo. Amy kept running strong and I was keeping pace but around mile 15 my stomach felt a little off and I remember thinking, "this is going to hurt."

Miles 16-20 (6:41,6:48,6:46,6:52,7:02)
You see the trend in my splits :)  The course was beautiful and we passed Autzen stadium which was cool.  Britt was also around 17 cheering.  It was nice to have so much support on the course.  At 18 I started hurting pretty bad, my stomach was nauseous and my legs were getting really heavy.  I took 4 Honey Stinger chews and hoped that they would help.  I kept plugging away and prayed that I was going to make it through.  Mile 20 began the death march :)
This was between 20 and 21, I was working hard!

Miles 21-26.2 (7:17,7:36,7:49,7:54,7:55,7:32,7:26)
This was Tough!!!!  I was running a mile at a time and was losing the battle.  I was wishing that anyone would jump in and run with me.  Mentally I was struggling and physically it felt like I was running a 10 minute mile.  I couldn't think straight and don't even remember looking at my overall time much.  Tyler had said that she would be at 24 and I was running to 24 not 26.2.  I needed a boost as you can see from my splits, it got ugly.  There were aid stations every mile for the last 10k and starting at 22,  I started walking through the aid stations.  Mentally this helped some but I knew I was just going to have to gut it out!  Somehow I got to 24 but there was no Tyler, ugh!!  At about 24.5 I saw Tyler and she was cheering for me, I wanted to be done and but I kept moving.  (Come to find out she had thrown up after her race and still came back for me, that is a friend)  At mile 25 Nikki (my coach), and my friend Nicole jumped in with me.  I wish that I had a recording of the conversation between Nikki and I !  Basically I was trying to explain that I felt nauseous and she told me to stop wasting energy talking and move.   She does know what to say to get me to move.  She looked at her watch and told me if I wanted it, I was going to have to work for it. 

 You would think that I would be looking at my watch but I was pretty out of it and dont think I would have been able to figure it out anyway.  I knew 3:00 was out but Nikki always said that I was training for 3:00 +/- 3 minutes.  So I did not know what time it was but I kept pushing as hard as I could.  I felt like a turtle but Nikki reassured me that I was running faster than I thought.  Then there we were so close to the stadium and the crowds were amazing, so many teammates cheering, cowbells, it was energizing, at least enough to get me to the finish line.  Turned onto the track and gave it all my legs had, which was not much :)  Crossed the finish line in 3:02:50.  A 10 minute PR from Seattle!  
Nikki pulling me through!  Bless her!!

Turning onto Hayward field for the last 100 meters!  Amazing!
Push it!!!
Done!!!! 3:02:50

Picture in the Eugene paper on Monday

Happy Day!
Nikki probably telling me and everyone else that we were going to have to work for it :)

Wish that I felt better after the race but I did not feel great.  My stomach was nauseous and my legs were dead.  I tried to fuel but it all just seemed to sit in my stomach and then decided to reappear about an hour and a half after the race.  I thought I fueled well, I did the same thing I did in Seattle but for whatever reason had totally different results.  Was it because I  was running faster?  Did I go out too fast?  Was I not fueled enough going into the race?  The frustrating thing about the marathon is that each race is different.  You can do the same thing and depending on the day get a totally different result.  It is also the intriguing thing about the marathon though, always a challenge.  Every race has a lesson!  Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. I am thankful that this was not the perfect race for me because it means that I can do better, I am capable of breaking 3:00.  I am thankful for so many things in my running world right now, I am blessed to be a part of a team with amazing women and role models.  I have an great coach who gets me and helps me find balance.  She gets that running is not and shouldn't be everything.  Finding balance has been the key for me.  
Proof that I don't live in running clothes
What I look life in real life:)
Thankful for a husband who supports my running and my dreams!


  1. Well done, Steph. You went out with courage and it payed off!

    I can't imagine eating a banana while running at that pace :)
    Loved reading about your fueling and your mid-race thoughts.

    Must be awesome to have the team support!

    Congrats on your fantastic new PR!!

  2. Congrats on an awesome new PR!
    Great recap, sorry you weren't feeling well at the end. I bet it was nice to have your coach help you through.

  3. You are incredible!!! Loved this so much!

  4. You were inspiring to watch that day and again to read! Love you and so proud of you! DREAM BIG! xxx

  5. You are amazing! I LOVED this race report and I am so impressed with your diligence. You will be my inspiration. I am going to work my butt off to qualify for Boston 2014. It has been awesome to see your times just drop due to your hard work. If you have any advice for me, let me know. :-) I love Nikki and she was in the coaching class I took through the RRCA. :-) I am a coach for people who want to learn to run. It's the getting faster part where I get stuck! First I gotta get the baby weight off. Congrats again!

  6. I enjoy reading stories about athletes. For me one of the most effective motivational tools is to learn the others' experience. The following resource was also of great help for me - Among other interesting things, I have also read there about the importance of proper nutrition. I even started taking pre-workout supplement they wrote about. I was pleasantly surprised when I've noticed the first results. My strength and endurance went up, making my workouts much more effective. My shape has improved and I've even lost weight without any special diet.